International organisations and animal health

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Trade in domestic animals and food

A number of international intergovernmental organisations rely on epidemiologic principles in the investigation of health and disease in animal and human populations. These are predominantly associated with the control of animal and human health, in the context of international trade. The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the SPS agreement), was developed by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995 in order to encourage global trade and to protect against the instigation of unreasonable trade barriers, whilst still protecting against the spread of human, animal and plant disease. Three groups are associated with this agreement: the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) of the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), also of the FAO.

  • The OIE are responsible for the monitoring of animal disease worldwide. As well as developing sanitary rules for international trade, they are responsible for the development of standards and guidelines for diagnostic tests, vaccines and for the collection and dissemination of animal disease data. They also offer technical assistance to countries in need of help
  • The CAC are responsible for producing the Codex Alimentarius, which covers standards, guidelines and recommendations for food safety.
  • The IPPC develops standards aimed at protecting against the spread of plant pathogens through the movement of plants and plant products.

Following the production of the standards and guidelines, the FAO then has the power to enforce these

Trade in wild animals and conservation issues

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is also involved in the regulation of trade in (wild) animals, plants and associated products. It is an agreement aimed at protecting endangered animals and plants, and provides a framework for implementation of trade laws at the national level for member countries.

Food security issues

The FAO provides information on agriculture, food and consumption worldwide. As well as raising issues regarding food security, regional and country offices are found throughout the world - which allows them to work directly with farmers in developing countries in order to provide assistance. Similarly, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) conducts research in developing countries in an attempt to find methods of poverty alleviation through livestock management.


The World Health Organisation' (WHO) is responsible for the coordination of public health issues - which, in the case of animal diseases, will relate to zoonotic disease (pathogens which can transmit from animals to humans). In a similar role to the OIE in the case of animal disease, they are responsible for the collection and dissemination of data, in the provision of support and technical assistance, and are also involved in the coordination of disease control strategies at both the international and national level. They are also involved in food safety, having an input into the CAC.

Animal welfare issues

The OIE are associated with the development of animal welfare standards on an international level, but the enforced implementation of these are usually on an individual country basis.